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As of 2024, Brown’s Greens has been acquired by Food to Power. If you’re seeking composting services, go to Food to Power Compost website.

Essential Guidelines for Building Raised Beds

All you gardeners have heard the buzz about “raised beds”, and probably if you don’t have them already, you’ve thought about making some. I highly recommend it! Raised beds offer so many benefits and advantages for relatively low hassle/expense to get them started. They save your back and knees because you don’t have to get all the way down to ground level to care for your plants. If you have bad soil, you can start over with raised beds and fill ’em up with the good stuff, rather than spend years trying to improve your soil. They retain water; if you have a garden space on uneven ground you can use raised beds as forms for level growing surface. They’re all around easier to manage, and also prettier to look at! If you want to give them a try, please read on and follow my easy guidelines to make sure you do them right and don’t regret not thinking ahead!


The absolute ideal wood for a raised bed is redwood. It naturally lasts longer without rotting, and it looks beautiful for a long time. It’s more expensive, and some folks are concerned about using redwood because it’s a much more limited resource than regular pine or cedar. I get that, but according to my research the production of composite and plastic boards intended to substitute the use of redwood actually creates more waste and environmental issues than the harvest of redwood anyway. So I still use redwood. Do some of your own research, and if you are convinced alternatives to redwood are better environmentally, go for it! Regular pine board can be used as well. Pine will last an average of 5 years as a raised garden bed, and redwood will last more like 10 years. Landscaping block and brick can make for a good raised bed as well. They take a little more work since you have to level and compact the ground underneath the block much more thoroughly than for a wood raised bed.


In my first year of business building gardens for people, I made a mistake choosing the right soil. I built raised bed gardens for 4 clients that summer and thought I’d save a buck by getting some cheaper soils and mixing them myself. I mixed a sandy topsoil with a compost/manure mix. My mix didn’t have any fluffing agents and it compacted down like clay. I had to go back and amend the soil for all four clients the next year, I should have researched first or just gone with my landscape suppliers designated raised bed mix! So my suggestion to you is to either fill up your beds with a mix that is already created for raised beds, or ask your local garden shop for advice on what to mix. Just make sure that you have a good “loam” (more sand than clay, but a mix of both) for your soil medium, a quality compost that makes up no more than 20% of the entire mix, and then some peat and/or perlite/vermiculite to aerate the soil and keep it from compacting.


You’ll want to keep the width of your beds AND the width of your pathways in mind when designing your garden. If you make your beds too wide, you’ll have trouble reaching the center of the beds to pull weeds, harvest, etc. The traditional size is 4×8 feet wide, and it works great, leaves enough room for 3 or 4 rows of plants and you can easily reach to the center of the bed. Also make sure you don’t put your beds too close together. 1.5 feet to 2 feet is a comfortable width for a pathway, making it easy to move a wheel barrel through or to sit or kneel between beds. Second, you’ll also want to keep in mind the depth of your beds. Most annual vegetables/fruits/herbs need about 12″ of soil depth for healthy root growth. In order to achieve this, most people use 2 stacks of 2x6x8 boards for their raised beds, making roughly a 11″ deep raised bed. I like to use 2 stacks of 2x8x8 boards, just to allow for a little more of a lip at the top of the raised bed to prevent spillover, and to give my plants a little more root depth. Last thing to consider when designing the size of your beds is whether to include center support or not. If your beds are much higher that 16″ and you are using 2″ thick lumber, I would highly suggest that you include a board or some form of support in the middle of the beds. If you don’t, the sides of your boards will begin to bow outwards from the weight of the hydrated soil. Not a functional issue, but it doesn’t look very nice.


What you do with the space around your raised beds is totally up to you. I like to lightly landscape the areas around beds that I install for clients. I install metal edging around the site, pin down landscape fabric, and mulch the pathways around the beds. Here’s an example:

If you have invasive weeds that spread with runners or vines (bindweed, crab grass, etc) and can spread through their roots rather than seeds, I would suggest doing this fabric and mulch method. And I would even leave the fabric underneath the beds and staple it down well so that the invasive weeds don’t find their way up through your nice new soil. However, if you plan to grow perennial plants or shrubs in your raised beds, cut out the landscaping fabric at the bottom of your beds before adding soil. Perennial plants need more root depth, and if there is landscape fabric at the bottom of the bed, that will impede their growth. And of course, make sure the ground is level underneath your beds before you install them. If your beds are at a slope, the soil inside of them will eventually settle at a slope as well and you’ll have problems with water retention.

That’s the gist of it! It’s pretty simple work, just get good wood, good soil, and prep the site properly. Happy gardening!.



Posted in DIY
Brown’s Greens offers an immediately useful and accessible way to begin composting. Their curbside composting service is excellent and is really helpful in creating steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Coupled with a recycling service, we’ve been able to reduce our regular trash pick up from weekly down to once a month. Nice to see the Colorado Springs community stepping up to do good and lead out as an example for others in the state. - P. WHITNEY
We love the compost service! And of course, the garden they made for my veggies - truly beautiful and functional! - DOROTHY NELSON
Brown's Greens built four raised beds for my vegetable garden -- about six by three feet each -- and filled each one with their best planting mix. As a result, my crop yield has been increased at least four times over. Zach's knowledge of soil content and composition has been especially helpful to me, since the ground in my backyard consists mainly of hard clay. I couldn't be happier with the results! - JIM WARE
Very pleased with Brown's Greens services. My husband and I started to realize how much food waste we were producing from our juicing regimen and wanted to find a better option than the trash. Brown's Greens was simple to set up, very reasonably priced, and they've been right on time each week to pick up. - NICOLE BIRD
1. I always thought about composting but really didn’t know how to get started. I used Browns Greens for some landscaping (which they did beautifully and on budget!) and noticed their compost service on their website. I’ve been enrolled in their weekly bucket pickup/drop off service for a month now, and I love it. They are prompt, the fresh buckets are nice & clean, and it feels amazing to make good use of my food and garden scraps instead of clogging up the trash. I’m excited to receive my compost when the time comes.

2. *UPDATE* Just had to add to this review since we had Browns Greens return for more landscaping. I asked Zach for ideas to replace all the grass in the front yard, and he drew up a beautiful plan. His crew did all of the work in two and a half days, and it’s stunning. We have a dry riverbed with beautiful stones, and boulder-studded berms on either side planted with native shrubs and perennials, all set up with drip irrigation to help them flourish. (The attached photo doesn’t really do it justice — the plants are still babies, and the berms are higher than the pic makes them appear.) The crew is friendly, hard working, and they all clearly love their jobs. I cannot say enough wonderful things about everything this company does. - MANDY HOUK
Brown's Greens is a great local company! Zach Brown and his team planned and created a wonderful landscape for our backyard, including beautiful borders, mulched areas, and raised beds which have given our family veggies for 3 years. The work was done right, quickly, and the price competitive. We highly recommend Browns Greens! - TERRI MOON
Great customer service. Always friendly. Dedicated to making the world a better place. - NICOLE LANE
Easiest, affordable, professional company that makes home composting so accessible!! Highly recommend them for your home composting needs! - CAROLINE MARGARET
I love Brown's Greens! I have wanted to do composting for a while but just don't have the time to do it on my own, and it is so inconvenient to take it somewhere else. But now it is picked up at my house once a week! They are always consistent in sending weekly reminders and picking it up. And I receive compost back to put in my garden, and my garden is loving it. So glad I can participate in cutting down on landfill space, improving air quality, AND in blessing the ground and the city in this way. Thank you, Brown's Greens! - ALISON WARE
We were thrilled with the outstanding service and quality of work that we had done by Brown's Greens. The prices were reasonable and the work was done right on schedule. We can heartily recommend Brown's Greens for any outdoor landscape or garden project! - CAROL FORSETH